The present terms of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan expire on September 17. The human rights of Afghan women and girls may depend upon its continuation and expansion.
Protecting the Human Rights of Afghan Women and Girls through the Renewal of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
Since May, beginning with a letter to President Biden, an ad hoc international network has sought to mitigate the devastating effects on women of the withdrawal of the American and NATO military forces from Afghanistan. As the situation unfolded, putting women and civil populations at increasingly greater risk, the network expanded its efforts to protect women in-country, and to help those who need to leave to do so. Recent efforts focused on the United Nations have urged the organization to fulfill the provisions of UNSCR 1325 to protect women in armed conflict. Now that the Afghan government has fallen to the Taliban, and most international presence is also being withdrawn, we look to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan as an ongoing agent of the world community, acting to meet fundamental security needs of the Afghan people. The network continues to see the assurance of the human rights of women as the most essential of those needs, and has put forward proposals to UNAMA and UN missions from that perspective. These 10 suggestions are put forward now as discussions of the future of the Mission, due to expire in September, are being conducted. We hope readers will contact their respective UN missions, urging them to support providing UNAMA with the capacities and resources it needs for its urgently necessary mission.
10 Suggestions for the Renewal of UNAMA
The following 10 points are offered for the consideration of those gathering to review the status and future of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan. It has been drafted, and is sent by an ad hoc international civil society network for the protection of Afghan women, in consultation and with the participation of Afghan citizens. From its inception, the network has called on all parties involved in the unfolding humanitarian crises to undertake, in fulfillment of the provisions of UNSCR 1325, every possible measure to protect women and girls and their fundamental human rights; and to pursue every possibility to end the current violence. We still hold hope that such will be achieved, and that all parties, including those now in control of the country, will act accordingly.
In the immediate situation, UNAMA, representing the United Nations and the world community, bears a responsibility to use its every power and resource to provide as much security as possible to the Afghan civil population in general and to women who now face gender-specific risks in particular. And we members of international civil society bear a responsibility to support UNAMA, calling for the world organization to provide the mission with adequate and appropriate authority and resources.
In light of that responsibility, we respectfully request that those gathering in London on August 20, 2021, give consideration to the following suggested terms for the renewal of the mission.
Suggestions for Renewal of UNAMA to Provide Protection for Women and Assurance of their Continued Essential Contributions to Afghan Society
- Armed contributed police contingents to establish and maintain sufficient civil order for the pursuit of daily life;
- Unarmed civilian accompaniment and safe-conduct teams to enable women to go about their daily lives, work outside the home, market, seek necessary services for themselves and their families;
- Emergency stations of UNHCR, on a pro tem basis, to make it possible for women at risks higher the those faced by all Afghan women (i.e. “targeted”) to leave the country if they so choose;
- Health and trauma treatment services essential to pregnant women, women with infants, women caring for the aged and infirm etc. along with assurance that they will be safe in seeking such service and after receiving them.
- Establishment of corridors of safe passage for the delivery of humanitarian aid, exit from the country if necessary, and other essential services provided by an extended UNAMA.
- Exact and enforce a commitment from the Taliban to observe and respect the human rights of women assured by international standards. Any violation of this commitment is to be met by sanctions in various forms imposed by states and the international community of businesses and civil society. The same standards are to be imposed on any state or agency supporting or assisting the Taliban in committing such violations.
- Assure conditions, including establishing and maintaining safe houses to make it possible for women leaders to remain in the country for the essential work they are doing for the entire society. Should Afghanistan lose this leadership, recovery of the social order, the economy, and the government would be severely, perhaps lethally impeded.
- Continuation of cooperation with Afghan civil society through their regular involvement in the ongoing work and all particular initiatives of UNAMA. Such cooperation should be continually expanded to assure that the needs and will of the Afghan people are a prime factor in determining the work of the mission.
- Regular briefings for media from all world regions to keep world society and concerned citizens aware of the situation in Afghanistan, so that as necessary citizens of all member states might raise their voices in support of the best interests of the Afghan people and the work of UNAMA.
- The central task of the mission is to assist in maintaining civil order and facilitating citizens’ civic participation until such time as a democratically elected Afghan government is capable of providing the essential order and fulfillment of citizens’ rights of political participation. It is in the interest of Afghanistan and the world community to achieve and firmly establish national independence and complete self-government. The work of UNAMA, acting for the world organization and the international community should assist the Afghan people toward the achievement of that goal.